BOOT ONLINE: How did you come to acquire the old "Apache Star", which enjoyed success in the early 90s?
ROGER KLÜH: That was in January 2012, when I visited the Apache shipyard in America after more than 10 years to meet the boat builder of the Apache Star again. During the visit, this rotten jewel was lying in the boatyard. In the days that followed, I thought about it, thought about the fact that I was allowed to be there at the World Cup at the beginning of the 90s - that is, when it was born. At the same time, I was already mentally playing through the reconstruction, which eventually led to the acquisition of this jewel.
BOOT ONLINE: You plan to sail the Apache Star from Miami to Havana in record time. How did this idea come about? Is it the sporting desire for a new record? Or is there also a deeper meaning here, such as international understanding?
ROGER KLÜH: Not only is the boat a real jewel and already won the Speedboat World Championship in Key West in 1992 on its first attempt, it has a special meaning for me because I was allowed to be there for the second record in 1993. I was immediately in love with the boat, it was love at first sight, so to speak, and that is why I associate an extraordinary experience with it.
And when I was back in America after 10 years and looked out across the Atlantic to Cuba, the idea came to me to take the boat back to its place of success, or rather to its success for a third time.
The boat simply has an extraordinary history and is a legend in the USA. It is the first speed boat with V-hull, in which you can manage long distances at high speed, even sitting. Back in 1992, the boat won the world championship title in all categories without being tested. In 1993 it won the title again at the same world championship, where I was there live. After that it was quiet around the boat, it was like lost... Reason: The owner at that time had other priorities, but did not want to part with the boat.
Of course, the project is to be seen as a sporting event that did not exist in this form before. But I also have a deep friendship with the people in Cuba, and after all, no one has mastered the route since 1963 - I wanted and want to change that.
BOOT ONLINE: Can you tell us a little bit about the effort it took to refit the Apache Star?
ROGER KLÜH: The shipyard worked no less than 2 years just on this boat, all work was done by hand. 3 months were spent working on the hull core alone, 1.1 tons removed, then rebuilt.
I even developed my own color, but it is difficult to perceive on photos or videos, or only in kind. I couldn't have the color produced in America either, had to go to Europe for it to a German supplier who had it produced in Belgium. Even the helmets are custom-made, the Recaro racing bucket seats were personally customized for us, and the interior is fitted with Bentley leather.
Also unique: the new fuselage has a free-floating titanium floor that is mounted in the fuselage on a double-spring bearing. This allows the floor to yield and thus be able to absorb the extreme impacts.
The windshield is also something special: it was developed in the USA and is also used on fighter jets. The windshield was additionally tinted in green, which was a new challenge and took another 3 months.
We also developed the logo of the Apache Star ourselves. The two stars, for example, stand for the two world championship titles, the number 50 for the then starting number 50.
All in all, around 7,000 hours of work went into the Apache Star. Of course, we could have built a new boat, but it was clear to me from the beginning that it would only be this boat, especially since the hull is almost indestructible even in high waves.
BOOT ONLINE: What engine power does the Apache Star have today?
ROGER KLÜH: The Apache Star has 2 Mercury Racer BI-Turbo with 1,350 hp each, for a total of 2,700 hp with a total weight of 7.5 tons.
In initial tests, we achieved a speed of 115 knots, although the tests showed that the screws were too small. We have since changed that, so that a performance increase of up to 15% is possible with the new screws.
BOOT ONLINE: What stage is the project currently in?
ROGER KLÜH: We have spent 10 months preparing and using lawyers to try to get a special permit. But for the time being, the U.S. government does not want to grant a permit for the trip, which is very disappointing. This is despite the fact that we submitted a detailed 39-page dossier to the White House with the special permit.
On the part of Cuba, at any rate, there is extraordinary support for the project, both on the part of the government and the people of Cuba themselves. The wording of the dossier, for example, has been agreed with the Cuban government, and the Hemingway Yacht Club Havana supports the project in all respects. Cuba even planned to celebrate this unique event for two days, including an Olympic reception with Cuban Olympic athletes.
In any case, for Cuba the project would have been a great gesture, seen and understood not as political but as an understanding and friendly action.
However, with incomprehensible reasons, the U.S. government currently says "Yes, we can't" and does not allow a German citizen to steer a German-flagged boat from Miami to Cuba.
But this is no reason to give up and it is only a matter of time. In any case, the people in Cuba support the project, which for me allows only one conclusion: Cuba is waiting for the Apache Star, so let's not keep them waiting too long!